Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Red Rabbit

Red Rabbit opened at the beginning of this year, but we are terrible about visiting new restaurants as soon as they open. We have very little desire to fight the crowds and service and food tend to be better later on in many cases. I had also joined Red Rabbit’s eClub and received a discount coupon, which always increases our interest considerably.

We had planned to start off at the bar for happy hour and move to the dining room for dinner, thinking the coupon would not be valid for happy hour. However, there was a long, long wait for dining room tables, so we opted to stay put at the bar for our entire visit, which worked out great.

The cocktail menu is extensive and a whole lot of fun too. I love a good tiki drink! I think this was the “ugly but good.”
We started with the ricotta toast topped with honey and black pepper. This was amazingly simple and amazingly delicious. The honey had a lot of flavor and the ricotta cheese was silky and smooth. We both loved this appetizer.
We also had a few oysters on happy hour. I don’t recall where they were from. That would be great information to share.
We also nibbled on the bar nuts which were spiced hazelnuts. These were a tasty bar snack, and not too sweet.
John had the house sausage pizza. He enjoyed it and compared it to Punch pizza. 
I had the chicken Parmesan, which was delicious, but a gigantic portion. This should be shared! Or plan to eat the leftovers the next day. The red sauce had fresh tomato flavor, nicely seasoned and the chicken was thin with a crisp exterior.

Overall, the service, food and drinks were all outstanding. It is definitely worth the trip to North Loop. It is a fun casual restaurant, so there is not bad time to go.

Deals & discounts: Excellent happy hour daily, visit their website for current details. Also, I recommend joining the eClub for a sign-up coupon and a coupon on your birthday. (I don’t recall the amount of the sign-up coupon and I have not received the birthday coupon yet.)

Red Rabbit
201 N Washington Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Phone: (612) 767-8

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Smalley's Caribbean Barbeque

We went to Stillwater recently for a late summer visit on a Saturday afternoon. We wanted to visit a couple breweries from the Northern Ale Guide we've been working on. And of course, we were looking forward to returning to Smalley's BBQ. 
I had the ribs with BBQ shrimp skewer and mac and sides of mac and cheese topped with bacon and roasted sweet potatoes topped with caramelized pork and sausage. The ribs are great, you don't even really need the sauces, but they are nice if you want to add spice. The mac and cheese was amazing, so rich and creamy and I loved the sweet potatoes. And yes, the meat on top of them really did make them better!
John had pork shoulder and ropas viejas, which is Cuban style pulled beef with sides of fries and coleslaw. Both of his meats were very tender and juicy with great smoke flavoring the meats.

I don't think the service is anything to get excited about, but it was fine throughout our visit. The food is the real star here and certainly makes it worth the trip to Stillwater each and every time.

Smalley's Caribbean Barbeque
423 Main St S
Stillwater, MN 55082
(651) 439-5375

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Town Hall Station

Town Hal Station is a new addition in Edina. It is housed in an former gas station. The glass garage doors in front are a nice feature in the summer, as is the spacious patio. I arrived a bit early to put in my name in anticipation of a wait for a table. There was not a wait for inside tables, and a short wait for patio tables, which was fine with us.

Roasted corn and potato tacos

Beef Short rib tacos

Ragtop fried chicken sandwich

All of the food was very good and matched the menu descriptions. I enjoyed the spicy chicken sandwich a lot and the fries were decent as well. I also tried  a beer sampler flight, which you can see a glimpse of in the food photo, but I otherwise forgot to photograph. I liked trying a few beers before ordering a full one as I’m not that familiar with the Town Hall brewing selections. The cherry lager was very refreshing and fruity.

We had very good service throughout our meal and enjoyed the patio a lot. It is nice to see local restaurants expand and open in the suburbs. While Minneapolis isn’t that far away, it is nice to have quality food and beverage options closer to home. It looks like a full bar is also available for those averse to beer as well.

Town Hall Station
4500 Valley View Rd
Minneapolis, MN 55424
Phone: (612) 767-9747

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


Apparently I’m on a bit of a French restaurant kick. It is really just coincidence though, as we’ve been meaning to visit Meritage for a long time and decided to go before a concert.

We arrived a bit early and they were not quite ready for us yet as it was the first seating, so we had a drink in the bar. The hostess come for us once they were ready and things proceeded quickly from there. The service was actually very good throughout our visit and the server offered helpful suggestions as well.

We started with a half dozen ousters as they were on special  for oyster day at $2 each. I think I forgot to snap a photo of them though. The special oysters were fine for me and John ordered a few Glacier point oysters as well.
John had the hanger steak with pommes frites and bernaise sauce on the side. The steak was very tender and delicious. The fries were not bad either.
I had the herb de Provence crusted ahi tuna nicoise with crushed potatoes, summer beans, tomato marmalade, escarole and black olive oil. The tuna was wonderful and cooked rare as requested. I only wished for a larger portion of the potatoes. It was a very fresh, spring-like dish.
We finished with the creme brûlée, because it is my duty to try it in as many restaurants as possible. This was an excellent rendition and I recommend.

Meritage was an excellent experience and I highly recommend visiting. The food and service were all wonderful, even when they were quite busy before an event at the Xcel center. Reservations are of course, highly recommended.

410 St Peter St
St Paul, MN 55102
Phone: (651) 222-5670

Friday, September 15, 2017

Duluth Trip Report 06.30-07.03.17

Many times, over the Fourth of July we go up North with friends to Turtle Lake, but for a variety of reasons that was not happening, so we decided to go to Duluth for the weekend. We've been meaning to go forever, and the Brewery Passport we have been working on really motivated us as there are a few places in the book in this area. 

This is long overdue and I did not take many notes, so details are going to be sketchy, but I wanted to post the information and photos I do have. 

We stopped at Gordy's Hi Hat in Cloquet for lunch. First time. Bit of a line, but went quickly and food didn't take that long.

The burgers were great, I was not crazy about the onion rings or the fries. The onion rings were really greasy.

We checked into the hotel, the Radisson in downtown Duluth. Supposedly it has been remodeled, but it still needs work. I'm going to leave it at that. They do allow pets, which is nice, but we were relegated to the annex rooms in the back, so no lake view for us. Or King bed. Boo. I used hotel points for most of the nights and ended up getting my points back for one night, which was nice.
Stopped at Bent Paddle brewing for a Brewery Passport stamp. 
Finger's brewhouse. She great beers that no one really ever talks about. I loved the apricot wheat.

We sat on the pier at Fitger's overlooking the lake an enjoyed some food and beverages. 
tuna tartare
It rained pretty hard for awhile so we went back to the hotel to get Maya. Once the rain let up we went down to Canal Park and sat on the patio at Canal Park Brewing.
some more snacks

I think we called it a day after Canal park Brewing, plus it was kind of challenge to have Maya along as she did not enjoy being in the hotel room alone very much. Let's just say we visited Duluth's dog parks frequently.
For breakfast, we went to Duluth Grill. This place is worth the wait and as good as everyone says it is.
excellent sourdough toast
breakfast melt sandwich 

After breakfast, we collected Maya, packed up the car and drove up the North shore to Grand Marais. It was a very pretty drive, though the weather got colder and rainier the farther north we went.
Asian wings
pork sliders
We had lunch and beverages at Voyageur Brewing Company, which was also dog friendly.
Donuts at Wold's Best Donuts n Grand Marais

We stopped at Gooseberry Falls for a little hike 

We made one last brewery stop at Castle Danger brewing. I don't think it was in the passport, but their beers are all over in Duluth and quite good.
We dropped off Maya at the hotel and went over to the Anchor Bar for burgers. It is an interesting little place, and the burgers are the real deal. Fresh cut fries too.
I think we called it a day after burgers and all of the fresh air. 
Sunday morning we headed to At Sara's Table at Chester Creek for breakfast. Breakfast burrito for John.
Hippy breakfast for me- it was basically scrambled eggs with potatoes on the side. After breakfast we walked around Canal park, but it was a lot busier down there than when we arrived on Friday.
We grabbed lunch at Sir Benedict's, up by Fitger's. 

Maya got tired out from all the action and excitement. It is hard to get her tired sometimes!
We sat on the patio at the Blind Pig as they had live music inside and it was pretty loud.
This pretzel was huge....
The rathskeller under the Blind Pig. Apparently it is an old jail and haunted. It is certainly dark and creepy. We stopped in at the casino across the street as well, but it was super smoky and rather sad. They did have a few table games though.
View from the overlook rest area on the way out of town.

We had a great time in Duluth, and even Maya enjoyed it a lot. The dog parks in Duluth leave a bit to be desired though and I think next time around just one or two nights will be enough.